Staph Infection 101
You know you run the risks of getting bruises and bumps in your game, but what about the dangers your helmets and knee pads can’t save you from?
You know you run the risks of getting bruises and bumps in your game, but what about the dangers your helmets and knee pads can’t save you from? Whether it’s football, volleyball, or soccer, playing any sport makes you susceptible to Staphylococcal infection, otherwise known as “staph.”
What exactly is staph?
Staph is a skin infection caused by bacteria that thrive in moist conditions (like locker rooms.) Sounds gross, right? These bacteria are often passed between athletes via skin-on-skin contact. Once you get a cut or abrasion, which often happens in the heat of the game, you are vulnerable to contracting staph.
How can I tell if I have Staph?
Staph may appear as small red bumps that resemble spider bites or a cluster of blisters that resemble pimples. According to Children’s of Alabama, “If a minor infection gets worse—for example, you start feeling feverish or ill, or the area spreads and gets very red and hot—it’s a good idea to see a doctor.”
But why should I worry?
If little unexplained bumps don’t freak you out, get a load of this: untreated staph can grow to a painful boil, and can cause diseases like cellulitis, toxic shock syndrome, and staph pneumonia. Still not worried? It’s also possible for staph to develop into MRSA, a strand of staph resistant to antibiotics. In addition, it always has the chance to enter the bloodstream and spread to your bones, joints, lungs or heart, which can be fatal.
How can I prevent it?
What’s better than treating staph early on? Not having it at all! Here are a few tips to keep those nasty bacteria out of your system:
- Wash your hands often.
- Keep hands away from nose and groin.
- Avoid sharing personal items like towels and soap.
- Shower immediately after practice and games.
- Clean and cover all wounds promptly.
- Wash any sports laundry in hot water, then dry on the hottest cycle.
What if I get staph anyway?
Even if you do everything in your power to prevent it, you can still develop staph. You should see a doctor immediately if you suspect you have become infected. Your physician will tell you how to properly care for the wound, and how to keep it from spreading to other parts of your body (and other people!)
Athletes are also prone to develop ringworm, herpes simplex, and athlete’s foot. Curb these infections by keeping your equipment, uniforms, and body clean.